The history of the Dirty Martini is a lot like the cocktail itself: cloudy. But our favorite origin story comes from the Yalta Conference, the historic meeting between Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945. Before the conference began, FDR, a man known for his love of very dry, very cold Martinis, mentioned that he was feeling a little hungover. Stalin recommended his favorite cure-all: vodka and pickle brine (essentially a mid-century Communist Pickleback). Unfortunately, vodka and pickles were not on the breakfast menu, but Churchill came to the rescue with his personal stash of gin and olives. Legend has it he dumped the coffee out of its silver pot and used it as a makeshift shaker, mixing gin with olive brine. The resulting cocktail was a bit stained (or dirty) from the coffee remnants, but no matter—that tipple was just what the doctor ordered. While we wouldn’t recommend drinking this cocktail at breakfast, its savory, briny flavor is perfect for whetting your appetite during cocktail hour.
These days, bartenders have invented a whole swath of products designed to make this super simple cocktail even easier—from bottled olive juice to The Bitter Truth’s Olive Bitters. You don’t need these newfangled ingredients to make the classic cocktail. Just hack it together like Churchill using the juice from your favorite olives (we’re partial to castelvetrano).
Recommended Gins: Boodles Gin, Tanqueray London Dry Gin, Plymouth Gin Original
- 2 oz Gin
- .75 oz Dry Vermouth
- .75 oz Olive Brine
Contributed by Supercall